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IMPENETRABLE CHELSEA

It's been 597 minutes since Chelsea yielded a Premier League goal — and that was an own-goal in the final game of last season.

As for a goal by the opposition, it's been 713 minutes — the equivalent of eight games — since Manchester United's Ruud van Nistelrooy scored against the Blues.

Chelsea, managed by Jose Mourinho, clinched last season's title in April. With six straight victories to open this season — all by shutouts — this league race may be over by winter.

The Blues already lead Manchester United by seven points. Arsenal is 12 behind, although the Gunners have played two fewer games. Granted, Chelsea is the biggest spending team in world soccer. But it also appears the strongest and best organized.

"They are exceptional," said Charlton manager Alan Curbishley, whose second-place club was beaten 2-0 over the weekend by Chelsea. "They've posed loads of questions for everyone in the Premiership, and it's up to the big teams to respond."

Don't count on it.

—The Blues are the first Premier League team to win their first six games without conceding a goal (they've scored 12). Newcastle won the first six in 1994-95, but gave up seven goals.

—The Blues are threatening two records they set last year: eight straight wins by shutouts, and 10 straight shutouts. Two of those games were ties.

—The Blues are unbeaten in 35 league games dating to last season. They can match Arsenal's record of 49 straight in a New Year's Eve game against Birmingham at Stamford Bridge.

—Chelsea is closing in on Tottenham's topflight record of 11 straight victories at the start of a season, set in 1960-61.

CZECH REF SUSPENDED

A soccer referee received an eight-month suspended sentence Monday for agreeing to accept a bribe to fix a Czech league game.

Vladimir Pastyrik was found guilty of agreeing to accept more than $1,200 to fix a game between Viktoria Zizkov and Brno in February 2004, Judge Marketa Polanecka said. Pastyrik also must pay a fine of more than $1,200 and cannot work as referee the next three years.

Pastyrik was the first to be sentenced for corruption in a scandal that broke in May when police wiretappings revealed attempts to fix games. Since then, more than two dozen soccer officials and referees have been suspended or fined for offering or accepting bribes and are awaiting trial.

U.S. U-17s TRIUMPH

Ryan Soroka, Kyle Nakazawa and Preston Zimmerman scored to lead the United States to a 3-2 victory over North Korea at the Under-17 World Championships on Saturday.

The victory moved the Americans into a tie with Italy atop Group C with three points.

Soroka scored off a throw-in, and Nakazawa connected on a free kick in the first half. Zimmerman scored the eventual game-winner off a corner kick in the 72nd minute.

"It was our first game in the World Championship and we came away with three points, so we accomplished our goal," said American coach John Hackworth, who raised his record in international play to 13-3-1.

The U.S. team will face Italy in their next match on Thursday.

FRIEDEL INKS NEW DEAL

U.S. goalkeeper Brad Friedel signed a three-year contract with the Blackburn Rovers of the English Premier League through 2008.

The 34-year-old Friedel has been one of the club's most consistent players in his five years as its top goalie. He starred for the United States at the 2002 World Cup in helping the United States reach the quarterfinals but has since retired from international soccer.

"I still have four to five good years at the top level, so I was very comfortable and confident to sign," Friedel said. "I think I can give the club three very good years."

Friedel said contract negotiations had been going on since April. He was voted the best Premier League goalkeeper for the 2002-03 season after 16 shutouts in 37 appearances. He also has played for Liverpool (England), Galatasaray (Turkey), Brondby (Denmark) and the Columbus Crew (MLS).